In November 2004, the government of Macedonia passed its far-reaching National Strategy for the Reform of the Justice System (2004–2007). Macedonia’s Ministry of Justice then set itself performance markers—an extensive list of goals to be achieved over the short and medium term. The government also provided budget requirements for the program. Goals for the reform were ambitious: To strengthen the independence of the judiciary by giving judges greater professional freedom and to increase court efficiency (essentially by asking judges to work more).
Consequently, Macedonia’s new Law on Enforcement (enacted May 2005) effectively reshaped court proceedings by introducing private bailiffs and strict deadlines for enforcements. Its new Law of Civil Procedure passed in September 2005 and went into effect 4 months later to introduce more procedural discipline. This case study tells the story of a comprehensive court reform, the result of sustained effort on multiple fronts.
- The new Law of Enforcement required a court’s president to pronounce judgments within 72 hours of the trial and set other strict deadlines.
- There were early signs of success. Already in 2005, debt enforcements went from 20% to 50% of delivered judgments.
- The new Law of Civil Procedure reduced the number of appeals in the system and made the Supreme Court’s caseload more manageable.
- Macedonia also invested in case management software. Today every court has its own website with information for litigants.